Church spearheads Sept. 11 anti-pork rally
After civil society groups, it’s now the Cebu Archdiocese’s turn to lead a rally against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel on Sept. 11.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said the prayer rally will be organized by the archdiocese in coordination with other churches nationwide to further air the public clamor to abolish the pork barrel.
“What was intended by the people to serve them instead became an occasion for lawmakers to commit anomalies and it is that knowledge that caused the whole nation to stand up against the pork barrel,” Palma said.
“As Cebu archbishop, I am of one mind and heart with the people in trying to relay the message to the President: Scrap the pork barrel,” he added.
Bishop Palma, who just arrived from abroad, said he was thankful that the people were able to peacefully air their sentiments through the “Million People March” last Aug. 26.
“On learning about it, I thought that for the President to pursue his ‘Daang Matuwid’ (straight path) program, he should scrap the pork barrel. The (Aug. 26) march rally was a sign and an initiative of the lay people and the Church is fully behind it,” Palma said.
Palma said there are other ways for lawmakers to serve their poor, sick and indigent constituents.
When asked about the possibility of turning businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles as a state witness, Palma said the rule of law should prevail.
“But because it is the people’s sentiment that she is at the heart of all of this anomalies (it follows that) she is supposed to be responsible…and by law she should be punished,” Palma said.
The prelate also said Napoles should not be given special privileges and be treated like any suspect.
For his part Pelagio Apostol, Deputy Ombusman for the Visayas, said lawmakers should spend their funds for their respective districts.
Apostol declined to comment on reports that Cebuano congressmen gave some of their PDAF to non-government organizations (NGOs) based in Luzon, saying the data is quite raw to use for investigation.
Apostol said the Commission on Audit (COA) can help find out how the PDAFs of the Cebuano congressmen were used.
“It would be premature to make any conclusions,” he said.
He said if COA finds any irregularities in the use of the PDAF, they would investigate it.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) found out that Luzon-based NGOs received the pork barrel funds of former congressmen Eduardo Gullas and Ramon Durano VI as well as Rep. Luigi Quisumbing of Cebu’s 6th district.
Durano and Quisumbing said while their PDAFs were released to Luzon-based NGOs, these eventually went to their respective constituents. / Fe Marie D. Dumaboc, Correspondent with Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol
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